Social services concerned over city budgeting

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- Two social service groups are speaking out because they won’t be getting the money they say they need from the city of Lexington.

The process works like this, according to Vice Mayor Steve Kay: For the past couple years, council has based who gets what, if any, percentage of the social services budget based on project proposals rather than funding ongoing agency operations.

The council also encourages these groups to work collaboratively, according to Kay who says, "an individual agency proposing a project they did all by themselves wouldn’t score as high as a proposal that had two, three different agencies working together on a project."

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Kay says the proposals passed in front of around 35 sets of eyes, ranking each social service, then deciding again what, if any, level of funding the service would receive.

"It’s the best that we’ve been able to figure out to this point, but there’s interest in modifying it further. We’ve modified it every year. We put a system in place that we thought was fair and consistent as possible and then each year we see that the results aren’t exactly what we’d thought or had hoped." 

For at least two of the social services many people across the area use, that aren’t slated to receive any funding for the next two years, they say it’s not about process, it’s about people.



"Well, we were very disappointed to not be included in that list. And probably a little bit dumbstruck," says Marian Guinn, CEO of God’s Pantry Food Bank.

God’s Pantry feeds more than 2,000 families each month through its four neighborhood pantries.

"We really are a front line defense mechanism for families that are struggling with hunger," says Guinn who estimates a loss of 1.3 million meals without city funding, which yearly, is the largest single source of funding.

The Carnegie Center is in a similar situation. It’s always been funded by the city’s budget and that money’s almost always gone to the tutoring program.

"The achievement gap in Lexington is a crisis situation right now. We are one of the few proven programs that reduces the achievement gap," says executive director Neil Chethik.

While its iconic, red doors won’t close for good, Chethik says the $50,000 it was alloted this year are helping 100 families with one-on-one mentoring and tutoring for a year.

"What the studies show is that consistency and that relationship with an older, safe person is what helps young kids be better in school," he says.